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Understanding the Endocannabinoid System and Cannabis

December 21, 2023

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex cell-signaling system identified in the early 1990s by researchers exploring THC, a well-known cannabinoid. Present in all vertebrates, the ECS plays a crucial role in regulating a range of physiological and cognitive processes, contributing to the maintenance of homeostasis – the body’s internal balance.

The ECS consists of three core components: endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes. Endocannabinoids, similar to cannabinoids found in cannabis, are naturally produced by the body. The two key endocannabinoids identified are anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglyerol (2-AG). These compounds help keep internal functions running smoothly.

Endocannabinoid receptors are found throughout the body. The two main receptors are CB1 receptors, primarily located in the central nervous system, and CB2 receptors, found in peripheral organs and cells linked to the immune system. Endocannabinoids can bind to either receptor, and the resulting effects depend on where the receptor is located and which endocannabinoid it binds to.

Finally, enzymes are responsible for breaking down endocannabinoids once they’ve carried out their functions. The two main enzymes are fatty acid amide hydrolase, which breaks down AEA, and monoacylglycerol acid lipase, which typically breaks down 2-AG.

The ECS is involved in regulating a variety of functions and processes, including sleep, mood, appetite, memory, reproduction and fertility, and pain sensation.

Understanding ECS, can allow you to make the best cannabis purchasing decisions for your health.